Medical devices

Medical gloves (disposable gloves) – application & health benefits

Medical gloves (disposable gloves)

Medical gloves are also known as disposable gloves . This hygiene utensil, which is used to protect medical staff and patients in hospitals, ambulances and doctor’s surgeries, is available in different versions. In addition to hand disinfection , protective gloves are the most important medical product that ensures infection prevention in all areas of healthcare.

What are medical gloves?

The legislator classifies the gloves as a medical product. For this reason, they must have certain quality features and meet the requirements of the European standard EN 455-1 to -4, the Medical Devices Directive (MDD) and several DIN standards.

The European standard EN 455 only allows the single use of this medical product. The European Directive 93/42/EEC also regulates the safe handling of medical products throughout the EU. The international name is Medical Device Directive (MDD).

According to DIN EN 455-1, disposable gloves must be free of perforations. DIN EN 455-2 specifies the requirements for physical properties. DIN EN 455-3 evaluates the medical product with regard to its biocompatibility. This provides information about the composition of the material with regard to endotoxins, chemicals, soluble proteins and powder. DIN EN 455-4 specifies the requirements for the shelf life. This includes a legally required labeling as well as information on storage and packaging.

Shapes, Species & Types

Medical gloves vary in terms of sterility, size and material. Non-sterile gloves are divided into three sizes: S stands for “small”, M for “medium”, and L for “large”. Some manufacturers offer an extended range with sizes XS to XXL.

Sterile gloves are sizes 6 to 9, with size differences of 0.5 each. For example, after size 7, the next size is 7.5. Disposable gloves are not identical, each sterile packaged pair has a left and a right glove.

Nitrile gloves are also recommended as disposable gloves for maximum protection and for every area of ​​application .

Structure & functionality

The usual protective gloves are made of latex. People with latex allergies use nitrile or vinyl gloves. In contrast to latex, nitrile is characterized by a higher tear resistance. Vinyl contains a large proportion of plasticizers that can be harmful to health. Also neoprene, polyethylene, styrene butadiene polymers and tactylon are used as plastics for manufacturing.

In the sterile surgical area, protective gloves made of Naturlextex dominate because they are highly stretchable and comfortable to wear. Doctors and nursing staff appreciate the good grip on the fingertips.

In non-clinical and non-sterile areas, PVC gloves are preferred for reasons of cost. However, due to the low material density, they have an increased perforation rate. Another distinguishing feature is the powdered and unpowdered properties inside the glove. The powder allows for easy handling as the gloves are easier to remove from wet hands. However, it can cause allergies .

Protective gloves prevent contact with disinfectants and cleaning agents as well as other hazardous substances such as cytostatics and laboratory chemicals.

The risk of infection from blood-borne infectious diseases such as HIV , hepatitis C and B as well as smear infections is also in the foreground of use .

In many cases, surgical gloves are used, although the less expensive sterile single-use gloves are sufficient, for example during endotracheal suctioning of patients who are being artificially ventilated.

There is a danger if doctors and nurses put on the gloves too early before use and after disinfection. Then the disinfectant is still on the hands. The alcoholic preparation cannot evaporate under the occlusion and damages the skin .

Health Benefits

Sterile gloves are used to prevent infection. In contrast to the usual human skin flora, they do not have any facultative pathogenic germs .

The self-protection of the medical staff is important when the patient is known to have an infectious disease. The gloves prevent skin contamination and transfer of bodily fluids. Patients must also be protected from pathogenic germs that medical staff can transmit. This third-party protection is used for all medical activities that can potentially transmit germs in the form of bodily fluids: Oral examinations, taking blood , vaginal swabs , uterus examination, applying and changing wound dressings, rectal examinations, punctures, patient care, personal hygiene.

The requirements for a sterile and completely germ-free environment are very high for major operations such as bone marrow transplants, heart operations, amputations , organ transplants , lung operations, traumatological and orthopedic interventions and wound care. These procedures involve an increased risk of perforation and infection.

Patients in the intensive care unit must also find a sterile and germ-free environment. If this sterile chain is interrupted by non-sterile and germ-infested gloves worn by medical staff, there is a risk of sepsis , a wound infection or an infection with so-called hospital germs. For this reason, sterile disposable gloves are used in hospitals and medical practices.

The staff who are responsible for cleaning the operating theatres, medical equipment , patient rooms, machines and corridors also wear sterile gloves so that they do not act as a potential carrier of germs during cleaning.

Non-sterile gloves are used in non-clinical areas such as the kitchen, technical service or general cleaning work that does not require the handling of infection-sensitive materials and premises.

All medical tasks that involve a longer interval between wearers or increased mechanical stress require the use of latex gloves. Protective gloves made of polyethylene or PVC are preferred in this area.

Gloves made of synthetic materials can be used for simple activities when handling patients that do not require increased tactile accuracy. Latex gloves are preferably used for activities with a high degree of tactile sensitivity and grip.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.